[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]eing a Bitcoin-related organization is challenging to say the least.
Hacks, scams, uncertain legality, and downright incompetence have all brought large organizations crumbling to the ground. For Sean’s Outpost (the preeminent Bitcoin charity), these constant threats are background noise compared to more pressing issues. The Pensacola City Council has acted to sweep homelessness out of sight of the public, and Satoshi Forest flies in the face of this. Additionally, extraordinary rainfall resulting in flooding has stretched the Outpost’s resources further than ever before.
I had a chance to speak to (an exhausted) Mike Kimberl, of Sean’s Outpost, about the challenges facing the charity.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Outpost’s home city, Pensacola, famously made it illegal to sleep in public with any type of covering. This “blanket ban” was aimed at decreasing the visibility of the homeless population by forcing them to sleep wherever they thought they were safe from discovery. The ordinance also led to code-enforcement forcibly snatching blankets and sleeping bags from the homeless. Fortunately, the “blanket ban” was abolished under pressure by citizens and, most visibly, those affiliated with Sean’s Outpost.
Enemies were made.
When Sean’s Outpost established Satoshi Forrest, a campground where homeless people are allowed to camp for free as long as they abide by certain rules, officials immediately called hearings to block the activity, citing code violations. To date no violations have been found, and the initial case to close Satoshi Forest was dropped. However, another case was opened in a separate court. Mike Kimberl:
They just don’t understand; they are used to an entirely different paradigm. We set up a campground on our private land, but instead of asking campers to pay, we expect them to work by keeping it clean and safe. Fortunately the law protects our right to do this.
We have a fundamental disagreement [referring to local officials], and I’m done worrying about what they think. We’re going to keep helping people, and they can do what they want.
The dates for future hearings have yet to be set.
Local politics can cause a headache, but that’s why there are lawyers. This week brought another hurdle for the Outpost when a massive storm stalled over Pensacola, releasing two feet of rain over 24 hours, and causing massive flash-floods that shut down large portions of the city. Downtown Pensacola, where much of the homeless population resides was among the hardest hit. Kimberl:
We’re just so lucky. [Two homeless shelters] near Outpost Thrift are flooded out, but we were spared. We put up cots and turned the store into a make-shift shelter, just doing what we can to keep people dry and fed.
If Bitcoin is called the “honey-badger of money” because of its tenacity, Sean’s Outpost is definitely the honey-badger of charities.
If you are interested in donating digital currency to help Sean’s Outpost, this links to their donation page.
When I spoke to Mike Kimberl, it was near the end of 48 hours that had been among the most grueling in recent history for Pensacola. The few roads that were not at risk of collapse were littered with abandoned and totaled cars every few yards. With Outpost Thrift doubling as a shelter, and the entire team at Sean’s Outpost wet, muddy, and tired, it would be easy to complain; but not Sean’s Outpost. Kimberl:
At some charities, people are making a hundred thousand dollars salary, and I can tell you we’re not making anywhere near that (I wouldn’t want that), but we are successful by our definition. As long as we are able to help someone, that’s success.”